June 8, 2009
STARKVILLE -- The love of Starkville led Matthew Rye through an open door at the Starkville Parks and Recreation department in 2005.
After four years with the department, Rye gets the opportunity to lead.
Rye assumed the position as parks and recreation director June 1 after Clark Roman retired.
"It was good timing on my part because Clark had his years in for retirement and the park commission has given me an opportunity to step into his spot," Rye said. "I''m very appreciative of that opportunity."
Rye, who has a master''s degree in sports administration, has a background in managing facilities and events.
After four years of coaching basketball (one at former Maben High School and three at Starkville Academy), Rye believed he was best suited to work in recreation.
"The interest just kept growing and I fell in love with it," Rye said. "With my love for Starkville, they kind of fit together."
After a smooth transition, Roman has no doubt he is leaving the department in good hands.
"He''s a young and energetic guy with a lot of great ideas," Roman said of Rye. "He''s going to be a great asset to this program, no doubt about that. He''s a real likable guy."
Parks Commission Chairman Dan Moreland is confident in Rye''s ability to lead the department.
Moreland said Rye''s strength is getting along with the public and his staff, but he isn''t afraid to say no when necessary.
"He''s the best we''ve ever hired," Moreland said. "He is very capable, qualified, and very dedicated. We''re lucky to have him."
Rye cares about the recreational needs of the people from Oktibbeha County, and he is excited to provide that opportunity, especially with the new multi-purpose indoor facility that opened in May.
The building can be used for many different activities, and all ages can enjoy it.
"We''ve had an 84-year-old woman with two knee replacements walking on the track, and we have kids up front in a karate class for ages 5 and up," Rye said. "I said in our grand opening (May 19) that not many facilities can host a voting, a grand opening, and a board of aldermen meeting at the same spot, so this building gives us the flexibility to provide those opportunities."
The upstairs walking track and gym is open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays and 1-5 p.m. Sundays.
Rye has already introduced high school summer softball and basketball leagues, and managing those activities takes up most of his time.
"He''s got a lot on his plate with the new building," Moreland said. "It''s been trial and error to see what''s going on."
Sammy Willcutt, a former basketball coach and football coach at Heritage Academy in Columbus and Starkville Academy, has taken Rye''s place as the assistant director for youth athletics and financial coordinator.
Rye and Moreland said Willcutt''s experience as a coach and in athletic administration will benefit the recreation department.